Summary: What Jabez said...it’s more than a prayer, it is a philosophy of looking to God for Grace, Growth, Guidance, and Godliness. Link included to formatted text and PowerPoint Template.
Jabez: Livin’ Large
I Chron. 4:9, 10
Before Bruce Wilkinson wrote his bestselling ‘Prayer of Jabez’, hardly anyone had ever heard of the guy. Hidden within a long list of genealogies in your OT is a golden nugget of truth, only recently discovered by popular Christian culture.
I am convinced that people begin to skip over all of the names in these lists because they are hard to pronounce and do not mean anything to them personally.
Sadly, even though it sold millions of copies and no doubt had a great effect on all who read the book, most Christians don’t seem to live any differently as a result of this powerful passage. And so many of those who claim these verses and pray this exact prayer regularly do it with the attitude of rubbing a lamp to summon a heavenly genie. To me, that is the very definition of what James called ‘asking amiss’, or for selfish purposes. We are supposed to pray for God’s will…and yet, let’s not miss the fact that God wants for us to pray for His blessings, and wants to bless us!
Jabez’ name means "sorrow," "burden" or "miserable." Can you imagine what a hard time this little fellow must have had when he was a boy? His name meant misery. Maybe some of the children came knocking on the door asking if Misery could come out and play. What a name!
The Bible says that his mother called him Jabez because she had borne him in sorrow (I Chron. 4:9). A hard time at birth had labeled his name.
But none of us are bound to our upbringing or trapped by former circumstances…with God’s help and blessing we can rise from the muck of the pit and be something more for Him!
I want us to listen carefully to the prayer of Jabez. He prayed for:
Jabez called on the God of Israel and asked for the blessing of
God (I Chron. 4:10). Of course, the blessing of God begins with the
grace of God. The Bible explains to us in Ephesians 2:8,9: "For by
grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." In
Hebrews 4:16 we are encouraged, "Let us therefore come boldly unto
the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
help in time of need." If a person is going to come to God, he has
to start at the starting place and receive the gift of God and the
grace of God.
Jabez realized that he must start with grace!
Jabez prayed, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed and
enlarge my coast" (II Chron. 4:10). He was not satisfied to remain
the same. He was interested in growing in grace. In I Peter 2:2 we
read, " . . .desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow
thereby." In II Peter 3:18 we see, "But grow in grace and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." It is important
that a Christian grow, and Jabez was praying for that growth.
Sometimes small churches look at themselves and say, “Oh, we can’t do this and we can’t do that because we are too small. We don’t have the resources.” And their vision gets limited by their circumstances and instead of taking giant steps of faith, they take baby steps. I’m reminded of the story of a man who had done something wonderful and the king called him in and told him he could mark off as much of the kingdom as he wanted and it would be his. The man took his staff and traced a line in the dirt around himself. The king watched as he finished and said, “Is that all you want? Just what’s in that circle?” The man said, “NO. I want everything OUTSIDE the circle.” What if we drew a line around this building and said we want to claim all the territory beyond this place for God? Jabez looked beyond where he was and what he could do to where God was and what God could do. We can take a lesson from the vision of Jabez. Let’s not sell ourselves short. Don’t put God in a box…think of everything that’s outside these 4 walls!
Jabez prayed for the hand of the Lord to be upon him. He wanted the guidance and leadership of the Lord. In Matthew 4:1 and Luke 4, we read of Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness. In Romans 8:14 we read again, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." We read about the children of Israel in the Old Testament and how they were led through the wilderness by a cloud and a pillar of fire.